In these times of uncertainty, it could be easy for companies we depend on to just put their head down and try to get through the next few months, or even raise prices in order to profit from this global pandemic. Instead, what I have been seeing is that many companies are stepping up to the plate to help their fellow entrepreneurs and customers.
Over the past month, we have witnessed the impact a public health crisis like COVID-19 can have on dry cleaning. With all 50 states having declared state of emergency, closures of non-essential businesses, restrictions on retail operations and shelter in place mandates, dry cleaning sales are down 60%-80%.
Some of you have been sharing stories on Cleaner & Launderer Facebook Community page, thinking outside the box to create new revenue streams and offset declining profits. Many of you are talking about how it is affecting your staff and how you are changing your business model to keep them in a job.
Since we are all navigating the crisis together, what better time to lean on your software partners and acknowledge their respective efforts on how they are helping their customers navigate these troubled waters and battle the downturn of revenue. I found that several Industry software companies are working hard in a variety of innovative ways to help their customers fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic revenue slump.
I posed these few questions to the leading software companies and found their responses incredibly encouraging, creative and supportive. Of the companies who responded to my interview request, here is what they had to say…
As a company/software product/service, how have you helped/supported your client base during COVID-19?
CleanCloud, reports that they have been “working around the clock to further develop their pickup and delivery features to ensure safe and secure business practices for their users.” They have come to the aid of their clients whose revenue streams were primarily in-store only, to help them build an online presence and expand their scope of business to pick up and delivery. “This has been a lifesaver for some who have had to close storefronts as a result of government regulation, says CleanCloud.” Additionally, their support team has been on-call to assist with all customers operational needs to ensure businesses can meet the challenges the crisis presents.
Starchup, / described how they have worked with customers to create COVID-related marketing templates, including branded emails, website popups and print pieces that communicate essential information around the crisis. The company is offering fully branded versions of these marketing pieces to all of their customers, free of charge. They have implemented more flexible support hours and policies to ensure that their customers are fully equipped to use Starchup’s platform to respond to the crisis and rearranged their product roadmap to prioritize features that will help their clients remain flexible and nimble during the crisis and beyond. You can learn more about their roadmap here!
Fabricare Manager, is maintaining their full support staff during COVID-19. Although most of their technical staff have shifted to working from home, the company assures its clients that they “are fully equipped, focused and will continue to provide excellent support to all of their customers.” They are centered on educating their customers on Fabricare Manager’s many communications features and tools for texting and emailing customers about business hours, specials, health and safety tips, while also taking this time to give additional training and hardware maintenance.
SPOT, hit the ground running on March 18th, with a daily Emergency Webinar Series dedicated to the pandemic, that provided information to over 350+ attendees on the webinars. The videos generated from many of these webinars are available at https://www.youtube.com/spotposmedia and have been viewed by hundreds in the dry cleaning community. Within 48-hours, 55+ employees shifted to home offices, along with their associated equipment and telephones, providing a seamless experience for their customers. The company provided webinars, social media tips and tricks and email tips and tricks of many pertinent tools that have been invaluable during the pandemic. These included configurations for store hours, promised date schedule and production schedules. They also provided insight on the best practices of communicating with customers using email and SMS/text. SPOT has continued providing the same hours of operation and staffing throughout the pandemic
Do you have a vision of what post COVID-19 could look like for your company and clients?
CleanCloud predicts that Post COVID-19 will see more online pickup and deliveries, especially with the gradual lifting of the lockdown. The company is prepared and proactively aiding all their clients in the setup, training and launching of the cleancloud app pickup/delivery features.
Starchup customers were already migrating commerce online from brick-and-mortar prior to the outbreak. The company further states that since consumers will be increasingly wary of personal interaction, savvy operators will create new opportunities from these consumer trends by refocusing on delivery and even self-service custom interaction. “Technology will play an ever more important part of the customer’s experience with your business.”
Fabricare Manager believes its success in post COVID will be predicated upon its current business model to offer two versions of their software. Their standalone version, where you purchase the license one time with a choice to be on a support plan, or their cloud base service where you have a low upfront cost and pay a monthly hosting fee.
SPOT calls the future phases of the dry cleaning industry as “Dry Cleaning 2.0.” They envision significant changes in customer habits, garment mix and general thoughts of what and how dry cleaning services are provided. The company forecasts that the public, now more than ever, will rely on home delivery and curb side service. That this will shape the Dry Cleaning 2.0 service model for years to come.
Have you rolled out new software tools or polished current features that would help combat a post COVID-19 world?
CleanCloud has included several new pickup and delivery features, from an entirely new web booking tool to routing improvements and CRM tools. More can be seen on their video Apps
Starchup is all in with their new Self-Service App. The user-friendly app runs on a tablet, and it can be used in the store as an in-store/curbside self-drop-off and check out register or in conjunction with lockers or a conveyor kiosk. Customers can use the tablet on site to sign up, drop off or pick up an order and pay while integrating seamlessly with Starchup’s Point-of0Sale platform. Their development team beefed up the features on their delivery modules, including the ability for the customer to add tips for the staff or driver, added flexibility to the scheduled routes, improvements to wash and fold subscriptions and bolstered reporting and marketing features.
Fabricare Manager has taken the initiative to setup credit card readers for contactless payments. “No pushing buttons on the devices, no entering PIN numbers and no signature required.” The company continues to add key features to their Customer Gateway, such as an “On My Way” function that alerts cleaners that customers are on their way, enhanced route features and new tools that allow for more direct communication and contactless interactions between the cleaners and their clients.
SPOT has been busy enhancing their interactive Route SMS/text functionality to support a customer SMS/text of the word “pickup” to the store/company. “The reply prompts the customer to select what day they would like a pickup and creates the route pickup request for the customer automatically.” Additionally, they have rolled out their interactive retail SMS/text functionality to support their current counter, drive thru or curb side pickup “On My Way” feature for customers with ready retail/counter orders. The customer simply texts, “On my way” notifying the store that they are on their way to pick up their items, allowing for an efficient customer service experience when the customer arrives at the store. The company also released its subscription service plan logic. The flexible logic will allow a business to offer a “per bag” or “per pound” for wash dry fold service to customers.
Does your company offer any recurring cost deferments, discounts, or promotions during the pandemic?
CleanCloud claims that their cleancloudapp platform is the “most competitively priced” in the industry. The company has ramped up services to provide all customers with more setup sessions and additional support during the pandemic.
Starchup has been offering their customers help on a case-by-case basis. Operations and marketing consultation are available at no charge to those businesses considering Delivery/Pickup.
Fabricare Manager has been supporting their customers for over 20 years and “will always work with them on an individual basis”
SPOT provided unannounced billing relief for thousands of SPOT workstations in their April 1st billing cycle. They also provided relief to their customers for workstations that were not used more than two times in the last seven days of March. These inactive workstations did not generate billing on April 1st and provided free access to these workstations through the month of April. The company continues the workstation billing relief on their May 1st billing cycle for workstations that were not used time during the month of April. Additionally, they provided unannounced billing relief plan that included no cost for thousands of RouteTrac devices, Mobile Apps and CustomerConnect access for the month of April to all new and existing customers using these services.
Do you have a Customer Success story you would like to share with our readers?
“We have a number of success stories,” says CleanCloud. “A new client was set up, trained and went live in less than 24-hours with our online Pickup and Delivery platform. A small business owner who was able to keep his business open by significantly moving the revenue needle using CleanCloud’s integrated marketing tools.”
“The Starchup tips feature, which gives our customers the ability to tip our staff when placing an order in the Folde app, has been extremely helpful in driving extra revenue to our staff at a time when demand is uncertain. We have also been able to create a connection between our customers and our staff, who are on the front lines providing essential services.” – Mark, The Folde, Austin, TX
“Starchup’s subscription features gives us stable, recurring revenue at a time when revenue is uncertain. We can set up our subscription plans as we like, and our customers can sign up for them right in the PeachyLyfe app. It has been so helpful for getting us through this challenging time!” – Sherwin, PeachyLyfe, Atlanta, GA
“We have seen an increase in the usage of stand-a-lone Kiosks. This has helped with contactless interactions between the dry cleaners and their clients. Our emailing and texting service continue to be a success!”
Tide Dry Cleaners AZ operates 21 retail locations around the Phoenix area. At the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic Tide Cleaners AZ had no route operations. Since the pandemic, the staff at Tide Cleaners AZ has configured, deployed and is maintaining over 400+ route customers.
“Faced with the challenge of rapidly declining sales due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, we seized upon the opportunity to set up and establish Home Pickup and Delivery Service.
The tools and support provided to us from SPOT, were instrumental in our initial success. Delivery Console and RouteTrac enabled our staff with no previous Route experience to get up and running in no time at all.
In the first three weeks we were able to grow our business to 360+ active and happy route customers, a number that continues to grow daily. Customer sign up is a breeze with Customer Connect. We are confident that routes will continue to play a major role in our operations going forward.” – Tide Dry Cleaners, Phil Delia, Phoenix, AZ